जगतः पितरौ वन्दे पार्वतीपरमेश्वरौ ॥
Shiv and Shakti, the infinite and cosmic forms of the universe are worshipped as the Purusha and Prakriti by the whole universe. The composite male-female figure of the Bhagwan Shiv together with his consort Parvathi is worshipped as the Ardhanareeswar form. This form depicts the most significant fact that man and woman are equal and none is complete without the other. There are many legends which mention as to how the form was taken by Bhagwan Shiv.
Legend says, Bhagwan Shiv‘s great devotee, Sage Bhringi pays a visit to Shiv Ji in Kailash. Nandi, Shiv Ji’s vehicle and sevak advises Bhringi to go and offer salutations to Bhagwathi Parvathi first. But Bhringi refuses and goes to do a pradakshin of Bhagwan Shiv first. This annoys Parvathi and she sits on the lap of Shiv Ji, so that Bhringi does a pradaskhina of both of them together. A more adamant Bhringi takes the form of a bee and tries to go in between Bhagwan Shiv and Parvathi to complete the pradaskhina of Shiv Ji. She becomes furious and curses Bhringi that his body gets void of flesh, and he remains only with skin and bones.
With Bhagwathi Parvathi’s curse, Bhringi’s body is left with only skin and bones in him, and no muscles. Bhagwan Shiv, who takes pity on his state, grants a third leg to him. Then Shiv Ji merges himself with Parvathi as half man and half woman into one body for Bhringi to understand that they both are one and the same. With this, Bhringi realises that Shiv and Shakti are not different, asks for their forgiveness and bows to the Ardhanareeswar form.
Another story is said that the demon Andhakasur wanted to make Bhagawathi Parvathi his wife. Bhagwan Vishnu comes in aid of Parvathi and brings her to Vaikuntha, but Andhaka follows her there too. Then, Parvathi shows her Ardhanareeswar form to the demon, and he loses interest in the form which shows half man and half woman and goes away. Bhagwan Vishnu is amazed to see the form and worships them both as Ardhanareeswar, and sees himself manifested in that form too, showing that Bhagwan Vishnu and Bhagwan Shiv are one and the same too.
Yet another lore talks about Bhagwathi Parvathi’s becoming upset when she sees Ganga perched on Bhagwan Shiv‘s head . Though Bhagwan Shiv tries to plead Parvathi in different ways, she does not yield. To please her, he merges into Bhagwathi Parvathi as Ardhanareeswar to convince her that they both are the same and she will always be his equal.
Considered as one of the 64 forms of Shiv, the right half is depicted as Shiva, while the left half shows the female form of Parvathi. While the right shows, matted hair, half tiger skin covering the body with his traditional ornaments, the left side shows beautiful long hair, silk garments and all her delicate ornaments which shine in radiance. This perfect combination represents the how the energy of Prakriti and Purusha sustain the Universe and are unified as the Absolute ONE form.